LIMA — Having decision-makers visit the Joint Systems Manufacturing Center has proven to be an effective lobbying tool for the task force supporting the Abrams tank program and jobs connected to the government plant.
One visit last week and another next week aren’t as high profile as some, but the people seeing the workforce and technology were important: staff members for the Senate Armed Services Committee and Senate Appropriations Committee on Defense. The staff members are tasked with information gathering, fact finding, and reporting to the senators serving on the committees.
Task Force L.I.M.A. members talked about the visits Thursday, and planned for more.
The committee staff members are receiving the in-depth tours, said General Dynamics Plant Manager Keith Deters. They have clearance to see parts of the facility most people can’t and the tour takes several hours. Employee experts are stationed at certain posts to explain their work and technology.
The goal continues to be to get decision-makers in Washington, D.C. to understand not only the value of the place, but its unique capability, and the fact that it can’t be packed up and moved, or flipped off and on, Deters said.
The group will soon invite U.S. Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., who chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee; the task force members have received some positive indications that the influential senator would welcome the invite.
One of those decision makers has made it clear he won’t be coming. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has declined U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown’s invitation. Brown, D-Avon, communicated to the group that people from Industrial Base Policy Group will come instead.
President Barack Obama’s administration has been clear about its opposition to congressional funding to keep the Abrams program running at a minimal level. The Pentagon has said it has enough tanks for the moment and has wanted to temporarily shutter the program.
The task force also reported:
• It’s Task Force L.I.M.A. Facebook page and YouTube channel are both up.
• General Dynamics has stepped up its community presence, attending events such as Square Fair and National Night Out.
• The JSMC has seen more than 50 visits this year.
• The task force is working on having meetings at facilities that make parts for the Abrams tank; just in Ohio, 78 different companies supply the tank.
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